NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Opening day nearly ended with only frustration for Yale. Instead freshman Aerial Chavarin made it memorable. Chavarin’s goal with 1:55 left in the second half snapped a 1-1 tie and lifted the Bulldogs to a thrilling 2-1 victory over Bryant in the first game of the Yale Classic on a hot and humid afternoon at Reese Stadium.
Yale controlled play throughout, outshooting Bryant 21-4, holding a 10-0 edge in corner kicks and dominating possession time.
Still, it looked the game was headed for overtime until Chavarin’s heroics. Colleen McCormack sent a long ball forward that got through Bryant’s defense. Chavarin, in full stride, corralled it, broke in alone and fired a shot past Bryant goalkeeper Kaylan Conrad, setting off a celebration on the Yale sideline.
The goal was a fitting end to Chavarin’s first career game. She created a number of scoring chances and finished with five shots.
“She wants to go forward, and I don’t want to take that away from her,” Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said of Chavarin. “Hopefully this will be a confidence builder for her.”
With the temperature in the high 80’s and the humidity nearly as high, Meredith made good use of his depth. Nineteen different players saw action and all contributed.
Keri Cavallo got the season off to a strong start when she scored just 4 minutes, 50 seconds in. Geneva Decker started the play by sending a cross into the box that deflected out to Cavallo, who left-footed a shot into the top corner from 25 yards out.
It seemed inevitable that the Bulldogs would add to the lead, but it didn’t happen, although it wasn’t from lack of opportunities. At halftime Yale had an 8-0 edge in shots.
The onslaught continued early in the second half. Michelle Alozie had back-to-back great chances in the 61st minute. First, her header from in front deflected off the crossbar, and when the rebound came right back to her, she headed it again but this time it was blocked by a defender.
Bryant still hadn’t registered a shot after 66 minutes, but one was all it took to get BU on the board. Kaitlyn Spangler sent a free kick toward the goal from midfield to a wide-open Alison Guilmette, who flicked a header over the head of Yale goalkeeper Alyssa Fagel and into the net.
Yale, though, kept its composure, kept the pressure on and eventually was rewarded.
“Last year, maybe this is a game we don’t win,” Meredith said. “I like the character of this team. We faced a little adversity and dealt with it fine.”